“May you stay forever young”: moving words from retiring Bnei Mitzvah teacher after 25 years…

Robert Markless and Carolynne Farrer, Head of our Beiteinu school, in our garden

On Saturday 6th July we hosted a special Shabbat service in honour of long-standing teacher, Robert Markless, who is leaving the area after 25 years of teaching having prepared 135 pupils for their Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, and becoming known as “Professor of Bnei Mitzvah”  Many of his former pupils attended the service at which he movingly read from Bob Dylan’s poem “Forever Young”.

Former pupils who attended Saturday’s service were unanimous in their agreement that he made possible the daunting prospect of reading from the Torah.  “He was the most patient and supportive teacher I’ve ever had” said Sam Alston.  “He really built up my confidence when he told me that I soaked up information like a sponge!” said Nicola Jessop.

As well as teaching at KLS for 25 years, Robert was also awarded a Mayor’s Community Award last year for his extensive and wide-ranging contributions to the voluntary sector across Kingston Borough as well as serving as a Trustee for various organisations such as Kingston Race Equalities Council, Kingston Voluntary Action and as Governor for Kingston Hospital. More recently he has been volunteering for the charity Pets as Therapy, taking his dog Daisy to visit patients twice a week.

Robert is moving to Huddersfield to be closer to his daughters.  However he plans to return to KLS this Autumn for the High Holy Days to organise the Torah reading at the Yom Kippur afternoon service. Our tradition now dictates that this is shared by the year’s Bnei Mitzvah, in fulfillment of Robert’s quip “Torah is for life and not just for Bar/Bat Mitzvah”.

We wish him well in his retirement and look forward to seeing him here again very soon!